Marcus Osborne serves as Vice President, Health & Wellness Transformation, for Walmart. In that role, he is focused on furthering the company’s stated goal of improving the healthcare industry in the U.S. by increasing access, quality, and affordability in the system for consumers and payers. Prior to joining Walmart in 2007, Marcus was a senior management consultant with Alliance Consulting Group in Boston, Massachusetts. He also served as the chief financial officer of the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative. During the 2015 Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit, he shared some of the retailer’s guiding philosophies behind its healthcare initiatives:
Oliver Wyman Health: What role does Walmart play in delivering better healthcare?
Marcus Osborne: Our role is quite simple: to follow through on our mission to help people “Save Money & Live Better” and apply that to healthcare. We are trying to help facilitate lowering of the cost of healthcare for consumers in a transparent way; improving access to healthcare and reducing the barriers and friction that consumers face as they attempt to engage their healthcare needs; and simplifying consumer choices as it relates to their health.
OWH: What is magnetic for customers about the retail health experience versus other more traditional forms of health access?
MO: Retailers (good retailers) are obsessively focused on the needs of the consumer and want to do whatever they can possibly do to serve the consumer better. The reason is simple: either you serve the consumer the way she or he wants to be served, and better than how others can serve her or him, or you risk becoming obsolete. Too often, the more traditional players in healthcare don’t focus on the primacy of the consumer and, instead, attempt to play a game of balancing the needs of different constituents (the provider, the payer, the producer of healthcare products, to the detriment of the patient/consumer). I believe consumers gravitate to the retail health experience because it is an experience that is focused on the needs of the consumer. You’ll engage with those that fully serve you.
OWH: Ten years from now, what do you hypothesize will be the most transformed aspect of the healthcare industry?
MO: I hypothesize that the most transformed aspect of the healthcare industry will be how consumers engage their care. I believe we are fast entering an age where technology and systems are going to be able to engage consumers directly and improve their health without the need for a direct 1-to-1 interaction with a provider. You are already seeing this from organizations like HealthPartners and their Virtuwell platform. I see the role of the provider, specifically the primary care physician, moving from “being the quarterback” (needing to be in the game, on the field) to “being the coach on the sidelines” (directing the game, driving strategy, but not needing to be an on-the-field participant) to potentially “being the general manager of the team” (not even needing to direct the game or be on the sidelines, but instead lining up the resources, both technology and human, that will be used to drive an outcome). It is that potential transformation in the role of the provider that I believe will have the most meaningful impact.